The 6 best hotels in Destin, Florida from an adults-only inn to white sand beach resorts

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  • Found on the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is known for gorgeous white sand beaches and great fishing. 
  • Destin makes for an especially affordable and socially distant vacation during the shoulder off-seasons.
  • We carefully chose the best hotels in Destin, all starting under $300 per night.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin boasts stunning white sand beaches, gem-hued waters, and a secluded feel that makes it easy to vacation while social distancing.

Billed as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin is named for a northeastern fishing captain who settled there, and is relatively uncrowded outside of tourist season in winter and early spring. The local population checks in at just over 14,000. 

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Along with neighboring Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, the city of Destin offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the country from which to cast a line, launch a kayak or board, or simply set up a lounge chair, giving it strong appeal to US travelers looking to stick closer to home with domestic options. Five beachfront parks, including Henderson Beach State Park, provide friendly spaces to swim, fish, bike, hike, camp, explore, and more.

We chose the best hotels in Destin, Florida based on the following criteria:

  1. Hotels are all well located close to the beach, town center, state parks, and other area attractions.
  2. All are four- and five-star stays with the exception of one standout three-star hotel.
  3.  Every hotel is well-reviewed on trusted traveler sites, with a minimum of four out of five stars on Trip Advisor.
  4. Destin hotels are affordable and range from $139 to $292 per night to start. However, be aware that prices can rise significantly during peak summer weekends and festival season in October. 
  5. Every hotel boasts standout features travelers would seek in a beach getaway, from beachfront locations to multiple on-site pools to exceptional spas and restaurants for a relaxing vacation. 
  6. The hotels promote COVID-19 policies to prioritize the health and safety of all guests.

Browse all the best hotels in Destin, Florida below, or jump to a specific area.

  • The best hotels in Destin, Florida
  • Our methodology for choosing hotels
  • FAQs: Destin, Flordia vacations
  • More great summer vacation ideas

Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard

Book the Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard

Category: Budget

Typical starting/peak prices: $125/$418

Best for: Families, friends

On-site amenities: Swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, two restaurants, bar, fitness center

Pros: The artsy lobby, commodious even during regular times, is airy, open, and a good place to relax with a glass of something.

Cons: Because this is a high rise, you’ll have to deal with hallways and elevators. Elevator limits could make your wait longer.

Modern and funky, Hyatt Place Sandestin is situated in Grand Boulevard Town Center, which is on the Miramar Beach end of town. It’s a great pick for guests who have been hunkered down for months, and are looking for more of a central location to get reacquainted with dining, shopping, and adventuring through places like Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. 

The rooms are smart, with plenty of light wood and gray hues. They’re also spacious, ranging between 374 to 454 square feet, and many come with an extra sleeper sofa in the corner to accommodate another family member or friend. There are only 84 rooms total so you won’t feel overrun by crowds, either. Book a high-floor room for a terrific view of the area’s natural attractions.

Dining options include The Breakfast Bar, The Bar, and The Market, though hours and capacities might be limited. There are plenty of additional restaurants within feet of the hotel open for dining in, take-out, or delivery, including the highly recommended, local-and-seasonal Everkrisp. 

COVID-19 policies can be found here. 

The Island Fort Walton Destin

Book The Island Fort Walton Destin

Category: Boutique

Typical starting/peak prices: $210/$479

Best for: Families, couples

On-site amenities: Two heated pools, beach access, grotto waterfall, swim-up bars, seafood restaurant, signature coffee truck, water sport rentals

Pros: While lines are a little longer these days thanks to the six-foot rule, waiting on this one will be worth it: The Signature Hotel RL Coffee Truck features single-origin bean brews sourced by Victrola Coffee Roasters.

Cons: While the resort offers access to all sorts of configurations of beach chairs, beach beds, umbrellas, and water sports gear, it’s all for rental from the on-site venue La Dolce Vita, and will cost extra.

Ratings at this resort might look a little lower than the rest at first glance, but the property recently completed a $15+ million renovation. Add in new efforts to ensure safe interactions between staff and guests at the two pools, beach, signature restaurant Fish House, and elsewhere, and the numbers are bound to rise. The good kind of numbers, that is.

Located just a little west of Destin on Okaloosa Island, The Island Fort Walton Destin offers 600 feet of beachfront property to get away from stress, pressure, and viruses. If you need a change of pace, check out the five-story Grotto waterfall in one of the two heated pools. The swim-up bars depend on the season (they generally operate from Memorial Day to Labor Day) and, of course, COVID-19.

Rooms are clean-lined and bright with wood floors, white linens, and royal blue accents. While not all rooms have a patio or balcony, it’s worth a $50 upgrade to request a first-floor room with both a patio and a beachfront view.

COVID-19 policies can be found here. 

Home2Suites by Hilton Destin

Book Home2Suites by Hilton Destin

Category: Boutique

Typical starting/peak prices: $212/$398

Best for: Families, friends

On-site amenities: Outdoor pool, free breakfast, fire pit, outdoor tables, fitness/laundry facility, free Wi-Fi

Pros: The pool is saline, not chlorine, and boasts a fountain and fire pit. Outdoor tables and lounge chairs with umbrellas are properly socially distanced.

Cons: The fitness center doubles as the laundry facility. It’s literally called Spin2Cycle. You might be serious about your training when someone else is concerned about fluffing and folding.

A hotel experience that feels closer to condo living, Home2Suites makes it easy to keep your distance, especially since the bedroom suites function like little apartments.

Indeed, aside from the bedroom – which boasts a pretty comfortable Serta Suite Dreams® bed – a completely separate kitchen includes small and large appliances ranging from a coffeemaker and toaster oven to a refrigerator and dishwasher. You can make your own meals or order in dinner with contactless delivery. 

Family-friendly, Home2Suites is also close to attractions including The Track (think go-karts and bumper boats) and Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park. Buy online ahead of time for contactless purchases.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Henderson Park Inn

Book the Henderson Park Inn

Category: Boutique

Typical starting/peak prices: $246/$651

Best for: Couples

On-site amenities: Breakfast and lunch included, private beach, exceptional and romantic dinner offerings, complimentary welcome bottle of wine, bike rentals, complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas

Pros: The hotel is adults-only and some rooms have stair-access only, giving them a more private and secluded feel.

Cons: Don’t be confused by the word “suite,” especially when “mini” or “junior” is in front of it. Everything is a suite. What it really means is that rooms vary in size, from a very small 140-square feet to a much more spacious 427 square feet.

There’s a reason this property trends at #1. It’s mostly-inclusive (more on that in a minute), is adults-only (fun fact: Every guest must be 25+, unless you’re younger than that but married), and is private and romantic. 

After a good night’s snooze in the pale green-and-ivory room – some with balconies overlooking the Gulf – take included breakfast in the socially distanced dining room, while lunch is served as a picnic, packed to enjoy on the beach in the lounges. Or take it for a ride using the complimentary bicycles. Return from the sand or explorations of the local parks and preserves for happy hour at the tiki bar or with snacks delivered to your room.

Dinner is the only meal not included in the overall cost. Beach Walk Café, located on the property, commands high prices but is worth it, especially if you choose the VIP “toes in the sand” experience and consume your meal at a white linen-covered table set up directly on the beach. 

COVID-19 policies can be found here. 

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Book the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Category: Boutique

Typical starting/peak prices: $292/$407

Best for: Families

On-site amenities: Beach, outdoor pool, water sport rentals, golf course access, multiple restaurants and bars, spa, fitness center with classes, tram, business center, babysitting services and kids’ club, tennis court

Pros: The Sandestin Resort Tram takes you to tennis courts, Baytowne Marina to book fishing charters and the like, and to The Village of Baytowne Wharf to shop or dine.

Cons: Because this is a family-style place with something for everyone, it can get pretty busy, and reservations for restaurants and popular times for dining are competitive.

This beachside resort provides all the Emerald Coast views and toes-digging-in-the-sand opportunities one could want. Snorkel, paddleboard, kayak – the Walton County vending kiosks provide equipment right then and there, along with lounge chairs and umbrellas. 

But if you desire more action, the resort is known for access to Raven Golf Club, Burnt Pine Golf Club, Baytowne Golf Club, and The Links Golf Club, as well as The Dunes putting course at nearby Sandestin. 

After a full day in the sun, choose from multiple dining options ranging from steaks to sushi. At the moment, only Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood is open to the public. If that worries you, opt for delivery in rooms that begin at 460 square feet. If you’re comfortable with more contact, Serenity by the sea Spa is open with social distancing protocols, as is the fitness center. Try a Barre class or early morning yoga on the Sunrise Deck.

COVID-19 policies can be found here. 

The Henderson, A Salamander Beach & Spa Resort

Book The Henderson

Category: Boutique

Typical starting/peak prices: $295/$560

Best for: Couples

On-site amenities: Outdoor pools, lazy river, fantastic spa, private beach, multiple on-site restaurants and bars, event space, water sports, free Wi-Fi

Pros: There are 16 “spa rooms” that have access to a private elevator, which leads directly to the spa. 

Cons: The second floor of the hotel is dedicated to dog-friendly accommodations, with a limit of two pups per room. Dogs are not allowed in common areas, however, so getting them in and out can be a little tricky.

Wood-shingled and wind-swept, The Henderson looks like it should be perched on a moor. Instead, it overlooks a mile of one of the more underdeveloped beaches in Destin, affording guests the most privacy possible in town.

Take advantage of all the usual beach activities (or non-activities), practice getting your zen on in the adult pool cabanas, or float on the lazy river.

The 178 coastal-inspired rooms and suites are designed in hues of sand and sea blue, with four-poster beds and patterned carpets that give off a romantic manor house vibe. This lovely property, with a spa that includes a Himalayan Salt Suite, is ideal for taking a breather from the tumult that 2020 has offered so far. 

Located next to the Henderson Beach Preserve, the resort features plenty of resources for the nature lover, but it’s also deeply invested in the arts, highlighting the works of 13 local artists throughout the property. Learn about them, visit their galleries in town, and cap with a meal at signature restaurant Primrose.

COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Our methodology for choosing hotels

In addition to the criteria previously outlined, we considered the following factors:

Reviews: I’ve visited Destin, Florida and stayed at many of these hotels, but for others on my list, I considered reviews and ratings from trusted traveler sites like Trip Advisor and Booking.com.

Health and safety: All the hotels we selected prioritize the health and safety of guests with new strict COVID-19 policies.

Price: Room rates in low season start under $300 per night.

Amenities: All hotels feature the kinds of amenities you’d want in a beach getaway, including pools, private beaches, delicious restaurants, water sport rentals, and more.

Location: All hotels are located close to the beach and within easy distance of other top area attractions like the town center. 

Visitors: We chose a range of hotels to appeal to different types of travelers from couples seeking romance to families looking for kid-friendly amenities.

FAQs

Where is Destin, Florida?

Destin is located on the Gulf Coast in Northwest Florida and is part of the state’s Emerald Coast. It’s just over an hour’s drive from Panama City Beach, and other popular neighboring towns include Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island.

When is the best time to visit Destin?

As a popular beach destination, Destin is often most crowded during peak summer weekends, in the winter as a warm-weather getaway, and in October when they hold food and fishing events. To snag the best deals and encounter fewer crowds, consider shoulder seasons like late April after spring breaks are over when demand is typically lower but the weather is still nice. Though prices tend to climb over summer weekends, it still offers a more affordable getaway than many other summer beach destinations in the US, especially during the hottest months.

However, keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June to the end of November, with August and September usually seeing the most storms. 

How much does it cost to visit Destin?

Hotel prices typically begin in the $150 to $250 range, but rise closer to the $400 and $500 during peak summer weekends, when the fishing and seafood festivals kick in during October, and after hurricane season ends November 30. Florida also institutes a resort tax on top of hotel room fees.

Prices are also dependent on amenities and the type of property. For the uninitiated, it can be difficult to distinguish between a hotel and a rental or managed property, because, the latter often bear names with “resort” or “spa.” One good clue: If you can’t book for just a few nights, you’re looking at a managed property with minimum-stay requirements.

What’s the best way to get to Destin?

Commercial planes fly into both Destin – Fort Walton Beach Airport (formerly the Northwest Florida Regional Airport) and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City Beach. But the route to this distant part of the Panhandle can sometimes prove circuitous, with connections in Atlanta even if you’re coming from somewhere else in Florida. It’s often easier and less time-consuming to drive.

What is there to do in Destin?

With clear, emerald waters and white-sand shores, the beach is a major draw in this part of Florida. Boating, fishing, and snorkeling are also popular activities. There are also plenty of restaurants and shops to be found at the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and the Village of Baytowne Wharf.  

Are hotels safe?

The CDC now says fully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US.

Many hotels have reopened with new COVID-19 safety measures in place. Additionally, experts say that with added caution, it is safe to stay in hotels. We always encourage following CDC guidelines and continuing to wear masks in public areas and practice social ditancing.

More great summer vacation ideas

  • The best beach hotels in the US
  • The best hotels for families in the US
  • The best hotels near US national parks
  • The best US island hotels that don’t require a passport

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